The Houseunter: Queen Anne splendour in Cambridge

Ooh look at this. I could move for this I really could. It’s in Huntingdon in Cambridgeshire, the birthplace of Cromwell – there is rumoured to be a tunnel from this to Cromwell House opposite and it has seven bedrooms and is on the market with Inigo for £925,00. This price is because it is “full of potential” which is estate agent speak for “needs a lot of work” which, as you go round, you might notice.

It’s also Grade II listed which means you might not get permission to do everything you want to do. That said, the original features are amazing, it has a garden and two parking spaces and you might even find that tunnel. So, fancy a look? I think it’s also worth pointing out the power of good photography when it comes to selling houses. I have long suspected that some of the Inigo houses are so beautifully shot you could overlook any flaws such is the seductive power of the imagery. Indeed, I recently commissioned one of their photographers to shoot The Mad House so seduced was I by these images (I’ll include a couple next week for you to see) but when I saw this house was also on with Savills I thought I would do a little photographic compare and contrast.

Now we’re in the business of gorgeous inspirational photos here, but if you are actually house-hunting it’s worth looking at more than one set of pictures before your visit if you can find more. That said, if I’m actually buying a house it’s all about the floorplan for me. Yes that can be changed, but changing decor is cheaper. Anyway, shall we?

So above is probably the feaure that will sell the house – not the kitchen (unusually as this needs a new one) but the panelling in the dining room. Panelling has become very fashionable in recent years and it’s a great way to add character but you can’t replicate this original wooden version.

This is a great room too. There is a school of thought that says the darker colour should be on the bottom and I can’t disagree but the features – window, panelling, cornicing are all great and there’s even a little window seat. And if you’re into plasterwork then have a look at the ceiling below.

This is a lovely room although it needs a lick of fresh paint. We spoke a little bit about beams last week and often they come with low ceilings. If you feel you can’t add colour to a dark low-ceilinged beamed cottage then have a look at textured wallpaper. Anaglypta and Lincrusta both have masses of designs and if you paint them the same colour as your walls you will create interest and texture without making it all too dark. And, as we said last week, you can always paint the beams to match so they aren’t dark and dominating.

I love this room below with that little study space off to the side. Yes you’re going to need to sand that floor but this house is all about the bones. It has been lived in by an architect who also used it as his studio (as well as family home) and has also been used by many writers, a film maker and artists so it clearly brings out the creative in people. It’s also 4,600 sq ft so that’s a lot of potential to bring out.

These tiles in the fireplace above are original Delft so you’d want to keep them. This is the other end of the sitting room at the top and you can see that little cubby hole by the window. As an only child that would have been the dream spot for me; hidden from view but able to listen in to everything.

Now this is where it might be slightly tricky as the small kitchen leads into the dining room, which is the perfect spot for it but as it’s listed you might not be able to make it bigger – there’s a walk-in larder pantry next to it. That said if you have a space to put the fridge and lots of storage you might only need a small kitchen. Sometimes, when you move into a new space, what you thought would be the first thing you would rip out turns out to be actually quite a good idea which is why you must always take the time to answer those all important questions I keep telling you about – who, what, when, where how and why. That can help you decided what you really need from a space and if you do need to start knocking walls about.

Now we’ll just pop our heads upstairs before we go. Where do you stand on basins in bedrooms? I know a few people rip them out but I rather like it. Maybe that’s because we lived with my Grandmother for several years following my parents divorce and my bedroom had a basin. I quite liked that I could clean my teeth and face first and last thing without having to traipse down one set of stairs, up another and across a landing to the bathroom. That makes it sound like a huge house – it wasn’t  they were only half flights of stairs. Mind you, you had to make the trip if you needed the loo and while my Grandmother was assiduous in her provision of chamber pots (I kid you not) these were left many for decorative (!) purposes.

But look also at the wallpaper – adding it just above panelling makes it less dominant and while I might paint the paneling in a soft pink – to echo the paper – you can see how great it looks when it’s used on all four walls as opposed to just one. And of course, you can add your own panelling and paint it and then paper above should the fancy take you.

So, Cambridge who’s in?


Kate Watson-Smyth

The author Kate Watson-Smyth

I’m a journalist who writes about interiors mainly for The Financial Times but I have also written regularly for The Independent and The Daily Mail. My house has been in Living Etc, HeartHome and featured in The Wall Street Journal & Corriere della Sera. I also run an interior styling consultancy Mad About Your House. Welcome to my Mad House.


  1. Great House and will be snapped up because Huntington is an easy commute to Cambridge itself.

  2. Gorgeous!! Love it just as it is. Bit of a “clean up “ is all… although I’m sure there’s a project in it!! Floors, paint jobs etc.

  3. I liked it just as it is too! Then I looked at Savills photos – what a difference. Not quite so appealing and you would think it needed a bit more work. Still gorgeous though – I love all the little side rooms.

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